Friday, November 21, 2014

Still More of the Origins

I think I've figured out why I've been so sluggish for the past few days. I seem to be coming down with a cold. Yeah, just in time for Thanksgiving, but maybe I'll be over it by then. It looks like it will be a delightfully dreary weekend, so it will be perfect for huddling under a blanket on the sofa with a pot of tea and a book or my knitting. I might even let myself jump the gun on the holiday season and start mainlining all the TV Christmas movies. This year, I not only get Lifetime, ION and ABC Family, but I now have UP, Hallmark, the Hallmark Movie channel and the Lifetime Movie channel. By the end of December, I will possibly have overdosed on sappy TV holiday movies. Speaking of which, Lifetime made a Grumpy Cat Christmas movie. I am not making this up. It's for real, not a joke. Here's a link to the trailer, in case you want to verify it for yourself. I suspect that you get the gist of it and get all the good stuff (like the part where Grumpy Cat apparently sprays a department store with machine gun fire) in the trailer.

Now, back to giving some introductory info about the upcoming book (yikes, just a couple of weeks away!).

When it came to the story to tell using folklore about fairies, one story that comes up a lot is the Tam Lin tale, which is about a woman saving her lover from captivity in the fairy realm. There are also stories about men saving wives or saving random women who become their wives. But since I wanted any romantic relationship to be developed on the page rather than already established, I took it in another direction and made it be about sisters, perhaps inspired by the Christina Rossetti poem "The Goblin Market," in which a sister saves her sister from being in thrall to "goblins" (though the goblins in the poem sound a lot like the common folklore about fairies). So, that's the basis of the plot -- a younger sister is abducted into the fairy realm and her older sister sets out to rescue her.

Though there's more to it than that, and that's why the book took me so long to write. It took me a while to figure out why the sister was taken, what the backstory was and how it all fit together. I'd get midway through the book before I figured out what was actually going on, then I'd have to rework everything, and then I'd realize something else. I don't normally work that way, so it got frustrating at times. The second book was the same way. There seems to be something ephemeral about this world that makes it hard for me to capture.

The third main character (other than the two sisters) is the guy. Since the heroine is very much a take-no-prisoners type (but very polite about it), I needed a stronger guy, and since he's our outsider who doesn't have magical powers and isn't in the know about this stuff, that made it difficult for me to write my usual beta man without him looking like a wimp next to all the strong women in the story. So I made him a cop -- a police detective. That gives him a certain skill set and mindset, even though he is basically a nice boy-next-door kind of guy. In fact, that's a running joke about him with his police colleagues, that he's too nice to be a cop. He's in a kind of emotional limbo because he's also lost someone and hasn't given up on finding her again.

I had fun with creating the fairy world because I made it very dreamlike. I also imagined how fairies who don't quite get the concept of time might incorporate things they glimpse from the human world into their lives. Might they sort of keep up with the times? At least, they might not all still be stuck in a medieval guise.

I started the basic research for this story in the summer of 2009. That's when I was doing a lot of reading about fairy folklore, as well as reading a few memoirs by cops to get that mindset. I took a research trip to New York in late August and walked around a lot to find potential settings. I was working on writing it off and on for the rest of the year and into the next summer. I had a completed draft then but didn't like the conclusion. Then I was invited to speak at the annual conference of the Mythopoeic Society, and I got some ideas from the sessions I attended that told me I was on the wrong track with some things, but I knew it was going to take more work. At the same time, the steampunk idea was brewing and I thought it might be more marketable than this weird, vague book, so I put it aside and started researching the steampunk book, then wrote it. And then there was book 6 of the Enchanted, Inc. series, then a rewrite of the steampunk book, and then book 7, and then I finally got back to this book and got it to the point I was ready to shop it around.

As I feared, the publishers didn't know what to do with it, so I made the decision to self publish it. Oddly, it's going to come out before the book I put it aside to work on, but timelines in this business can drive you nuts.

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